Bargarh: As the battle for the December by-poll in Padampur assembly constituency intensifies, BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda and party spokesperson Sambit Patra hit the campaign trail, while ruling BJD minister and MLAs in large numbers are camping since last week.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Sarat Pattnayak along with former PCC presidents like Niranjan Patnaik and Jaydev Jena also roamed around the constituency, seeking votes for party candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu, a two-time former MLA from the Padampur seat in Bargarh district.
The arrival of Panda and Patra in a special chopper at a Bilaspur meeting venue under Jharabandha bock of the constituency was a spectacle for the people of Padampur. Though BJD and Congress leaders have reached the area for campaigning, none of them hired a helicopter.
“We do not know who Panda and Patra are, but came to see the chopper,” said Rebati Sahu, a housewife.
The two leaders have been seeking votes for BJP candidate Pradip Purohit.
In their speeches, both Panda and Patra came down heavily on the BJD government and accused Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of doing nothing for the development of the area despite remaining in power for over 22 years.
“The Padampur area is treated as the stepson of the state government. This is the time to teach the BJD government a lesson,” Patra said.
He said only Purohit can judiciously raise their issues in the assembly, as he has been a ground-level worker since childhood.
“Bargarh district is my late mother’s birth place. It is my ‘nanihal’ and therefore I have received lot of love and affection from the local people. As a ‘Bhanja’ (nephew) of the area, I urge the people to cast their votes in favour of Purohit,” said Panda, an industrialist-turned-politician and four-time BJD MP.
“I have been visiting the Padampur area since childhood and there is absolutely no change, no development in the 22 years of the BJD government,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, OPCC president Pattnayak, in his several public meetings, highlighted how development works were undertaken during the tenure of the previous Congress government.
“The Congress government had opened 52 schools in Padampur. Has any new institute been set up during the BJD regime?” he said, adding, only Sahu can bring development in the region.
Senior BJD leaders, including vice-president Debi Prasad Mishra, ministers Niranjan Pujari, Rajendra Dholkia and Rita Sahu have visited different areas of Padampur and canvassed for party candidate Barsha Singh Bariha, daughter of Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha, whose death on October 3 necessitated the by-poll.
Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Ashwini Vaishnaw are also scheduled to visit Padampur on Sunday to campaign for the BJP candidate.